Today’s post is part of an ongoing series of interviews with crocheters who sell their patterns or products on Etsy. I’ve been focusing mostly on people from the San Francisco Bay Area and today is no exception. Mille Chauser (mhandmade on Etsy) is local to this area as well. She has been crocheting and crafting for more than fifty years so I was really excited when she was willing to share her knowledge with us through an interview here on the site.
CROCHETBLOGGER: You have been crocheting for a long time. How have you seen this craft change over the years? (Personally or as an industry …)
Mhandmade: There are so many more yarn options today, from bamboo to cashmere, fun yarns, hand-painted yarns, sock yarns, etc. Crocheters today are able to make so many more things, not just doilies and bedspreads. Crochet hooks are no longer just the skinny steel ones, either.
CROCHETBLOGGER: It’s so true! I haven’t been crocheting too long but I’ve seen my mom’s old stash as well as the vintage magazines from thirty or forty years ago and it seems like we have such a greater array of options for crochet now!
CROCHETBLOGGER: Your Etsy profile mentions that you repurpose wool sweaters. Can you explain how that works and why you enjoy doing it?
Mhandmade: I repurpose old sweaters as handbags, cozies and jewelry trays. As with most everything I make, upcycling an old wool sweater began with a need. I needed a tissue cozy for my purse and I had this old ski sweater that I loved but never wore because it was too itchy, so I threw it in a hot wash and made a tissue cozy. It’s a red nordic stripe and it makes me smile whenever I reach for a tissue. I have made so many since then. I now have this huge collection of old wool sweaters. For the handbags, I cut a shape from sweaters, needle felt a design on it, add a handle and lining, blanket stitch the sides and crochet a trim around the bag. The jewelry tray is an idea that I got from one of the Japanese craft books I have in my collection. Because I don’t read or speak Japanese, I can’t really follow the directions or even know what’s included in the materials list, but I love looking at the photos and enjoy trying to figure out the graphs.
CROCHETBLOGGER: Is there a favorite item that you particularly enjoy crocheting?
Mhandmade: Right now, I am loving crocheting my ropey cowls. I had a low cut (for me) shirt but I really loved the print and the color. I had some yarn that matched it exactly so I made a necklace of crocheted chains. It worked so perfectly, I decided I should make more, but it was winter and I thought it would make a great cowl if I made the chains shorter and increased the rows, so that’s how the ropey neckwarmer came to be.
CROCHETBLOGGER: I particularly love your cowls … how long have you been making them?
Mhandmade: Thank you for noticing my cowls. They have been selling really well and I love making them. I started making them after Christmas 2010. For spring, I plan to crochet more chain ropes for different length necklaces, adding felt balls, crocheted flowers and other motifs.
CROCHETBLOGGER: That sounds like a great idea. Looking forward to seeing that!
CROCHETBLOGGER:What crochet magazines or blogs do you read (if any)?
Mhandmade: I subscribe to ALL the crochet magazines, a little crazy huh? I also subscribe to a lot of blogs, like stitch diva, crochet spot, future girl, purl bee and lindamade. Ravelry is great but I try keep away because it’s so addicting, I could play there for hours.
CROCHETBLOGGER: So true! And some great choices there for good crochet blogs.
CROCHETBLOGGER: What else would you love for other people to know about crochet?
Mhandmade: Crocheting is so relaxing! Everyone should try it. The hardest part is deciphering the directions. Once you know a few stitches, you can go on to crochet things. Magazines and booklets always include instructions for different stitches, so that’s easy to refer to. The best thing about crocheting is the instant gratification; it goes so much faster than knitting and if you make a mistake, just undo the mistake, no big deal, unlike knitting. I am lucky I was taught to crochet as a child and it is definitely my “go to” craft when I need to calm down and relax. So moms and grandmas, if you crochet, teach a child this lifelong skill!
CROCHETBLOGGER: Thanks for joining us here on Crochet Concupiscence. I hope that everyone will check out your Etsy shop and see all the great stuff you’ve got to offer!